Nature Images Provide Healing, Wayfinding at Newly Remodeled Fulton State Hospital
“A moral society is ultimately measured by how it treats those in distress and challenge, and how it treats those who dedicate their lives to helping those people.” – Governor Jay Nixon
We were recently involved in a ground-breaking healthcare project at the newly constructed Fulton State Hospital in Fulton, MO.
This place has significant history, opening its doors in 1851 and being known as the oldest public mental health facility west of the Mississippi River according to Fulton State Hospital’s Rebuild Project. But time and lack of funds led to the deterioration of the facility over the years, unsafe living conditions for patients and poor working conditions for staff. And in 2014, then Governor Jay Nixon approved funding for an extensive renovation for the hospital. After “some $114 million (dollars) and five years of work,” the state of the art hospital is opening its doors to patients again next month (News Tribune). And needless to say, it’s a pretty big deal.
FSH Chief Operating Officer, Andy Atkinson, described how the new buildings “will be life-changing for our patients.” He went on to describe the improvements, including “safety and security features, more room for treatment programs and better residential facilities to provide a higher quality of life for residents.” According to an article on Missourinet.com, the space also “includes a lot of natural light – taking away the institutional feel that many mental hospitals carry. The décor gives the facility more of a private hospital vibe. The lighting fixtures are modern. The ceilings are high and the hallways are wider.”
“For years, despite being in such a dangerous environment, staff provided some of the best psychiatric care in the country,” Missouri Department of Mental Health Director Mark Stringer said (News Tribune). And now the dedicated staff will finally have the resources to assist them in administering that care.
The changes made to this mental health facility are inspiring, and it feels invigorating to be even a tiny part of that kind of transformation using art in healthcare. Providing imagery to help calm anxiety, pain and distress, as well as to provide comfort to those who have dedicated their time to helping those people, will have lasting effects on patients, their families and the community.
The energy behind this project was amazing, and, at a ribbon cutting ceremony last month, Nixon described Fulton as “the finest state facility for mental patients anywhere in the United States.” He went on to say “My sense is this is a place that will, in the years to come, end up being a very good clinical research facility for important, cutting-edge treatments for the entire country if not the entire world” (Missourinet.com).
We are thrilled some of Kurt’s photos were chosen to be displayed throughout the hospital as a way to calm patients and also as a way to use color to navigate patients to various areas throughout the building. The images were printed to Koroseal Interior Products, creating a stunning display throughout this groundbreaking space. After the installation, we were allowed to tour the new facility and we were blown away by the results. So much research and planning went into designing this space so that it could be an effective and safe environment for both patients and staff, as well as be aesthetically pleasing to all who pass through.
“For years, despite being in such a dangerous environment, staff provided some of the best psychiatric care in the country,” Missouri Department of Mental Health Director Mark Stringer said (News Tribune). And now it can truly be a safe space for rehabilitation and healing.